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The Bank of England’s MPC voted unanimously to ensure that UK interest rates remain at 0.75%.
The Pound took a 0.5% fall from earlier this morning, currently standing at £1.2865 against the Dollar.
Senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, Ben Brettell said:
“Domestically, a tight labour market means wages are growing at their fastest pace in a decade. This would usually prompt policymakers to consider raising rates, but a deteriorating global growth outlook and mounting Brexit uncertainty have put paid to any thoughts of tighter policy for now.
“If and when we do leave, an orderly Brexit could see the Bank refocus on wage growth and raise rates later this year… A no-deal scenario would likely see sterling fall 5-10%, causing a spike in inflation, but I’d expect the Bank to look through this and cut rates to support the economy.”
Bank of England governor Mark Carney said, “The fog of Brexit is causing volatility in the economic data”.
BoE’s latest assessment stated that the uncertainty of the last few months has pushed UK’s growth to its weakest since the Brexit crisis.
Mark Carney gave a press conference following today’s rate decision where he reiterated that UK is not ready for a no-deal scenario, which if it happens, would affect employment and investment “substantially”.
He added: “Actual business investment is likely to have fallen 3% in the last year.
“If these conditions come to pass, then the MPC judges that an ongoing tightening of monetary policy over the period at a gradual pace and to a limited extent would be appropriate to return inflation sustainable to the 2% target.
“Although many companies are stepping up their contingency planning, the economy as a whole is still not yet prepared for a no-deal no-transition exit,”
He also went on to say, the MPC has “long had the view that the most likely scenario would be… some sort of deal [with the EU]”.
However, soon after the decision from BoE, the Pound rose up significantly from its doldrums, reflecting the fact that this decision was already priced in to the markets. It remains to be seen what the new week brings for the Pound, with May and Juncker going back for more talks on the Brexit deadlock.
Brexit uncertainty continues, and the Pound is on the up
Yesterday evening, Theresa May’s Brexit plan faced a hefty defeat and did not stir the currency markets as much as was anticipated.
Jane Foley, head of foreign exchange strategy at Rabobank said, “Investors look forward to the next event. What they are seeing is no resignation from Theresa May. And that, perhaps, means time will not be lost,”
“The other thing that has really comforted investors is the fact that, although there will be a no confidence vote today, it looks as though Theresa May could well win it.
“Politically nothing much has really changed… and there doesn’t seem to be a will on either side for a no-deal Brexit.
On this news, the Pound continues to rise against the Dollar, standing at 0.2% at $1.2882, and is up around the same amount against the Euro at €1.1299.
Due to Brexit uncertainty, a rise in interest rates could be delayed from the Bank of England.
Senior economist at fund managers Hermes, Silvia Dall’Angelo, spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today, stating that BOE had “missed its opportunity to hike rates”.
Mark Carney, Governor at Bank of England appeared before the Parliament’s Treasury Committee today.
He was questioned about the vote that took place in the Parliament last night and about how the market reacted.
He said according to the markets, a comeback in the Pound “appears to reflect some expectations that the process of resolution will be extended… and the prospect of no deal has diminished.”
Aside form Brexit uncertainty, the ONS announced that inflation fell to its lowest level in almost two years, standing at 2.1% in December 2018.
Mike Hardie from the ONS said “Inflation eased mainly due to a big fall in petrol, with oil prices tumbling in recent months. Air fares also helped push down the rate, with seasonal prices rising less than they did last year.”
“These were partially offset by small rises in hotel prices and mobile phone charges.”
IHS Markit/CIPS reported that in December, growth in the UK’s construction sector was at a three-month low standing below expectations, at 52.8.
Economics Associate Director at IHS Markit, Tim Moore, said:
“UK construction firms signalled a slowdown in housing and commercial activity growth during December, which more than offset a strong performance for civil engineering at the end of 2018.”
“Subdued domestic economic conditions and an intense headwind from political uncertainty resulted in the weakest upturn in commercial work for seven months.”
“Strong demand among first-time buyers meant that house building was the fastest growing category of construction output during 2018. However, construction companies indicated a renewed loss of momentum in December. Residential growth remains much softer than the two-and-a-half-year peak achieved last summer.”
On another note, the British Chambers of Commerce reported that with doubt over Brexit reaching sales and recruitment, the UK economy ended 2018 in a “weak holding pattern”.
The report also indicated that the fraction of manufacturers anticipating increasing prices is at its highest level in a year.
Director general of the BCC, Dr Adam Marshall said: “Throughout much of 2018, UK businesses were subjected to a barrage of political noise and drama, so it’s no surprise to see firms report muted domestic demand and investment.”
Mina Andreeva, the European Commission spokeswoman, mentioned that the EU is working towards a structured Brexit, but the contingency plan will still be applied.
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